Requisite Sunday Musings
Sunday afternoon. Doesn’t really feel like a Sunday, because instead of getting geared up for another week after a relaxing weekend, I had to work all day BOTH days, so I’ve been at the office from 8-5ish the last seven days, and am going back tomorrow. So now my body and brain are just CONFUSED. This should be a good post…
In the latest Moz news, apparently in addition to our regular power outages, our city has decided that we won’t have electricity on Saturdays before 6PM at least until the end of the year. That means my day of rest will have no light, no internet, no movies or TV, etc. Nothing like being forced to sit in your dark hut and do nothing! It really is kind of nice, being forced to do nothing. And I feel real sexy wearing a headlamp all the time.
We are more than halfway through May, and como o tempo voa (how the time flies)! At the beginning of the month I set some goals for myself. How am I doing? Well, finished Great Expectations (finally) and now have moved to something even more intellectual: rereading the Twilight series. Sorry bout it. Runs: five, including one for over two hours, right on track there. Flossing: fail. Nothing else needs to be said about that. I am not making goals for June. I am goal’ed out for now. Maybe I will just recommit to flossing. Ew.
Another thing mentioned in my goals was having a bunch of trainings for work. (I know I still haven’t talked about what I DO in Mozambique–it’s coming.) And those have been the cause of MUCH stress. There has been a lot of cocoa and cookies in my life recently, and that’s how I know I’ve been stressed. Because let’s face it, cocoa and cookies always help. (Correction: eating a pack of 15 cookies every day for a week just because you’re stressed and they cost 30 cents, doesn’t actually help anyone.) In brighter news, two weeks from this weekend I will be in Swaziland at a music fest, a month from today I will be in South Africa for the WORLD CUP, and I just bought a plane ticket to Thailand. Who can complain?
I have been having lots of trouble with my work computer, because it is European but often reverts to a English keyboard. So all the punctuation is not where it is supposed to be. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I have a bad habit of ending lots of blog comments with a smiley face. I want to get better at this, I truly do. (Do I hear another goal coming on?) Because ” : ) ” is just not always necessary. It has become a big problem, though, with the punctuation constantly changing on my keyboard. Because I have unintentionally left a lot of comments like this:
“I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! >( “
Yeah, pretty sure THAT isn’t winning me any blog friends.
Speaking of comments, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to anyone who has been reading my blog over the last few weeks! Seriously, I get giddy every time someone leaves a comment. I created P&P to have a creative outlet for myself when I am out here in Mozambique and knowing that there is a whole audience out there with similar interests that is friendly and supportive, really helps me feel less isolated and closer to “home” than I often feel otherwise (11,000 miles will do that to you).
But with that being said… I have only six months left in Mozambique, as of last weekend. Six months feels like nothing; it has been almost 20. And to be honest, I am so excited to go home. I can’t stop thinking about it: from all the food I’m going to eat, to all the hot showers I am going to take, to the marathon I am going to run, and a million other things that fall under the “WHEN I GO HOME” category. And this is well and good but…
I am scared I am missing my Now.
I have always been a planner… someone who is constantly looking ahead to the next thing, the next big change, the next step. And that’s okay, but not when it hinders my ability to fully experience my Present. And here, thinking about “after” is a coping mechanism, because lets face it: living in an African village, far, far, away from the people, places, culture, food, and so on that you know and love, can kind of suck sometimes. Sure, it’s amazing a lot of the time. But it is also REALLY HARD. And an easy way to cope with it is to keep my head in the future, when life will make more sense.
Sure, it’s okay to imagine a world where there is electricity on Saturdays, where the toilet paper has more than one ply, where I don’t eat chicken and rice for six meals in a row, where cockroaches aren’t my bedfellows. It’s okay. But the more time I spend thinking about LATER, the less I am thinking about NOW. And tomorrow’s never guaranteed, right? No day but today?
I’m in the homestretch now. Six months. Six measly months. And then Peace Corps is over, forever. And I don’t want to look back on this time and realize that I missed out by wishing it would go by faster. I have a card in my room that says “Any given moment can change your life… you just have to BE there.”
And I want to BE there, down the homestretch. Fully experience this crazy life that I have here. Even when it is hard.
Tales from the Crypt My Mozambican Kitchen
In foodie news... this weekend I wanted to make Brandi’s Nutella Marbled Banana Bread. And sure, I just had Saturday evening, but it had been a rough day and I figured baking would be therapeutic. (Note to self for future reference: when you have already tried to console yourself with cookies, biscuits, and rusks on a bad day, DON’T break out the Nutella.) I had some bananas (they finally reappeared after nearly a month disappearance) rotting ripening on the table, and decided to just go for it.
First problem: the pan. See, I don’t have a loaf pan. I have three choices: a huge bundt cake pan, a mini loaf pan the size of my hand, or six muffins the size of my face.
I picked the bundt cake. Next problem: the ingredients. Brandi’s posted recipe is awesome, but it calls for applesauce. Which would involve 1. having apples and then 2. making applesauce from scratch. So I used real very fake butter instead. Continuing with my UNhealthy substitutions, I used vegetable oil instead (no canola on this continent). And walnuts instead of hazelnuts because, well, it’s a miracle I even HAVE walnuts. Correction: HAD walnuts. My “whole wheat” flour is super-refined white flour with wheat flakes in it. I also threw in some baking powder just in case cuz I wasn’t sure my baking soda would work. I’m not even sure if it is actual baking soda.
And the milk! The recipe called for buttermilk. Yeah, right. I went to three stores today to find some long life milk. AKA, so chemically processed it can sit on the shelf for two years and then once you open it it goes bad in like two days. Well, I finally succeeded. But here’s the story. In the States, we have whole milk and skim milk. In Portuguese, it’s leite gordo or leite magro. Literally, FAT milk or SKINNY milk. And of course, I can only get FAT milk 95% of the time. Talk about a hit on the self esteem. My fat milk just sitting there, mocking me. “Come and get me, fatty!” And so I did.
So I think I found my true calling as a blogger: taking other people’s great recipes and Africanizing them, making them all unhealthy again. “Read MY blog for inspiration, guys!!! I use fake butter, the wrong nuts and FATTY milk! This is the REAL DEAL!!!” I think I just found a new tagline for my blog.
I should mention that as soon as I greased the pan, my electricity cut out, leaving me in the pitch darkness. (But it was after six…) so I did all my preparing in the dark. Well, with my headlamp, which means at any given point I had half a dozen mosquitoes buzzing around my face, in my eyes, or up my nose. Needless to say, I wasn’t taking too many pictures. In my confusion, I mixed everything together in the completely wrong order. I did get to take out some of the stress by “chopping” my nuts Mozambican style–by pulverizing them with a big stick.
Lights came on just in time for the nutella swirl. Also just in time for me to eat my day’s worth of calories straight from the jar. Does anyone else have this problem with nutella? It may be the death of me. Oh, and I only burned myself about three times trying to dig around in our oven for this stupid pan. Nothing like the smell of burning flesh to ruin the smell of fresh banana bread. Looked done after 20 minutes…
But wasn’t. (Don’t ask me at what temp I cooked it, my stove has no gauge.) 7 more minutes and it was definitely done. A couple of bites one slice two slices three slices later and I was thoroughly convinced that this is one of the best things I have ever cooked… ever. Which as anyone knows who has seen this blog, is not saying much of anything.
Despite the unhealthiness (or maybe because of it… can I get an amen for fat milk?), the power outage, moldy bananas, and the general confusion of the whole process. We’ll call it a success. And at least for this whole baking process… I was living in the moment. And right now, that’s exactly where I need to be.
Are you a live-in-the-moment person, or are you often looking to the future? How do you live in the present moment? Any advice?